Guns VS Gun Control (Why I Hate Guns and Gun Control) Part I: What is a Gun?
Articles in This Series
My thoughts on guns are a kind of conundrum. I'm both for and against guns. I'll likely anger both sides of the gun fight with this series. By the time we're done, I'll probably be called both a "gun loving moron" and a "libtard." Because we can't just get along and have a rational conversation, can we? Anyone who isn't on one side, must be on the other, right?
Let's get these hate comments rolling!
A Gun is a Tool:
"Whoa, dude. That was harsh."
No, Surfer Dude, not that kind of tool.
"Oh, like, for fixing stuff. Cool. Continue."
Thanks. We'll start with a popular argument in favor of guns. The argument has been made time and time again. “A gun is a tool”. Lets' run with that a moment.
A gun is a tool. It doesn't do it's job unless there is a person using it, right? So what are guns designed for?
"Your grasp of deep concepts is incredible," Glasses states sarcastically.
Thanks, Glasses, your praise warms my heart.
A hammer is a tool. A hammer is designed to hit things. You can use them for other purposes, but they are made to hit.
A spoon is made for eating. You can use it to dig, or cut someone's heart out (notice what I did there?), but a spoon is made for scooping food.
"I see what you did!" Surfer Dude interjects, "'Spoons don't make you fat.' Nice reference, dude."
Thanks, Surfer Dude.
So, what's the function of a gun?
A gun is a tool. Guns are made to kill. We can use a gun for target practice, scaring away a criminal, drilling a hole, or hammering a nail, but they are designed to kill. This includes hunting. Hunting is killing, whether or not we find it acceptable. Different guns are designed with different specialties in mind. Close range, long range, intimidation, high capacity, penetration power, etc. That said, guns are designed to even the playing field between large and small, strong and weak, old and young. With a simple aim and squeeze of a trigger, you can fire a projectile that will kill. We can use them to do other things, but they are designed to kill. How we use a gun makes a difference. Guns used to protect don't have to do damage. More often than not, if a criminal assailant sees a gun, the fight is over. Many guns are designed to look impressive for this very reason. If a thief breaks into your home and you pull a gun, the thief is likely to run away. It happens regularly.
Guns don't kill, hammers don't hit, spoons don't make you fat. It takes a person to make any tool work. But it's important to remember what the function of the tool is. This is why said argument isn't very impressive against those of us who favor gun control. We don't care that it's a tool, it's purpose is killing.
War and Firearms
To really discuss the design of firearms, we need to keep another thing in mind: War.
War is ugly. The point of war is to hurt someone else more than they hurt you. To cause enough pain until one side is destroyed or accepts defeat. The progression of war is to make stronger and more lethal weapons. To create more advanced defenses and better strategies than your enemy. It has always been about scaling up. More soldiers. More weapons. More armor. More machines. Better soldiers. Better weapons. Better armor. Better machines.
In the past, war had weapons like spears and swords. War was terrible. War was dirty, ugly, hurtful, and consuming. War took men and young boys and turned them into killers. The need to protect ones home, desire for power, and quests for ideals, inspired many changes to make weapons more efficient. With the invention of siege engines came the awesome and awful power to take down even the strongest defenses. Castles made of thick stone would crumble at the awesome might of a catapult or trebuchet.
Then came firearms. Yes, some are designed with hunting in mind, but war is a heavy influence. With the ability to fire projectiles at targets from a greater distance, and the ability to pierce even the toughest armor, firearms quickly became an essential addition to military forces. Many great machines of the past could kill groups of people, but even the arbalest, one of the most efficient devices for cutting down troops, wasn't nearly as portable.
Over many generations, the firearm was made more efficient. More compact. More powerful. Over time these powerful weapons made war less personal. Perhaps the greatest travesty of all is how impersonal killing has become.
With close range weapons, you can't pretend the person you are killing is anything but another person. You see their face. You feel their death in your actions. With a gun, the slightest movement of your finger is all that stands between death and your “target”. It's both easier to kill and less personal. Especially if that target is distant.
"And how many people have you killed to know that?"
None, Glasses. I have no personal experience with killing, but numerous return soldiers I know have stated this.
"Very well. Carry on."
A Little Truth From TV:
A little truth from TV (Seth MacFarlane). It starts at 1:18. Go ahead and take a minute to watch it.
Okay, part of why I post this is because it's hilarious to see Seth McFarlane impersonate Captain Kirk. However, I also think there is something to the speech. The more we can disassociate from the awful, the easier we accept travesty. The easier it is for us to ignore the personal pain, the easier it is to destroy the lives of others.
I said perhaps the greatest travesty was to have war be impersonal. The flip side is, it's terrible for killing to be personal. Killing is a terrible experience for those of us who have killed. It often weighs on our conscience. When it's less personal there is a greater disconnect with the terrible event. I think an important question is: Which is worse; to kill, or to kill with no regard or remorse for the loss? It's terrible for a person to carry the weight of life. But is it more terrible for a person not to? Just look at serial killers. Those of us who are not serial killers find such people abhorrent. Also just because we do not consciously carry it, does not mean we don't subconsciously carry it. Those who shut down a part of themselves to do something they would feel bad about often have deep seated trauma.
What a Gun Isn't
As we've been discussing, a gun is a tool designed to kill. A gun is incapable of killing anyone without someone loading the gun, putting a round in the chamber, and squeezing the trigger. Without a person, a gun is nothing.
As a tool, a hammer is incapable of building a house. A car doesn't force a person to drive. Similarly, a gun is incapable of making a decision to shoot someone. I own three hammers. The ownership of said hammers has not made me decide to build anything. Likewise, owning a gun does not make a person start killing. They don't have some incredible power to force a person to become immoral. If you were holding a gun, would it force you to kill? Would you suddenly lose all control of self and go on a killing spree just because you held a gun? No. These are ridiculous ideas. A person doesn't kill another purely because they have a means to do so. A gun is not a magical killing machine that forces it's owner to become an immoral slave incapable of resisting the desire to murder.
Put the right kind of safety measures in place and the danger a gun poses is all but removed. Even particularly powerful and dangerous gun is completely useless if it has no ammunition, and no one to pull the trigger. It must be under control of someone. "Oh, no! That gun is sitting on a shelf! We're all going to die!" Said no one, ever.
To Sum Up:
- Guns are designed to kill
- Guns can make killing less personal
- Guns make death easier to dish out
- Guns are scary
Do guns kill people? No. Guns are the tool. Are guns used to kill? Absolutely. That is their primary purpose. Sometimes for good reasons, sometimes not. All other uses are secondary things.
So what is a gun?
A gun is a device designed to kill.
What isn't a gun?
A gun isn't a strange machine that compels a peaceful person to kill for no reason.
I could keep going, but this is getting long and I think we've covered what a gun is fairly well. Time for a break. Go get a snack, water, some chips if you have them. I'll be doing the same. See you in Part 2.